Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Man Behind Von Dutch & Ed Hardy, Chrisitan Audigier, The New King of Bling

Christian Audigier, the man himself
He seemingly came out of nowhere with Von Dutch eight years ago. Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, he resurfaces again with Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier .

People ask who is this is Christian Audigier behind the names of Von Dutch and Ed Hardy?
To further confuse matters, he’s setting the world on fire launching multiple brands under his umbrella, SMET with French singer, John Hallyday; Christian Audigier, his own namesake; Paco Chicano for the growing Hispanic population, then the latest branch, Crystal Rock, his daughter’s own fashion line for edgy tweens and teens who want to copy their big Ed Hardy wearing sibling.

James Aguiar of the Full Frontal Fashion TV calls him, “a merchandising machine.”
So, who is this multi-headed, multi-armed hydra?
Christian Audigier's "American Lord" Line
Time to lift the curtain.

Christian Audigier is a 34 years veteran of denim merchandising and marketing.

He learned the trade the old fashion way-simply doing it, toiling away in the nitty-gritty downtown Los Angeles’ rough and tumble garment district, making all-American brands, such as GUESS, Levi’s, Lee’s, and American Eagle Outfitters look cool while he made Diesel look sexy, cool and sexy enough to make people want to buy and become loyal brand patrons.

A product of a single mother who was abandoned by his father in France, Audigier calls himself “a child of the Fifties.” Having the television keeping him company, he watches iconic American movies and Hollywood stars, such as Marlon Brando and James Dean. These motorcycling Californian bad boys formed the basis of what Audigier considers cool to this day, road-weary leather jackets and trousers paired with rough-up tees and jeans.
He always dreamt of America.

He spins his legend at beginning, quitting high school at age 14 to work in a trendy denim boutique. It was a different time then. Something that he wouldn’t allow his sixteen years-old daughter, Crystal, to do.

“Blessed by God that I can pair color with a pair of jeans,” Christian was discovered by a MacKeen Jeans executive who later developed Blue Cult denim. He set the sixteen years old on his path to the American Dream, moving to Manhattan to work for them, MacKeen Jeans for Bloomingdales.

From there, Christian was bouncing between Los Angeles, New York, France, and Italy, learning the art of making things “look cool” for Bisou Bisou, Naf Naf, Diesel, Fiorucci, XOXO, Guess, Lee’s, Levi’s, and American Eagle Outfitters.

Christian Audigier's "American Lord" head to toe

After making others “look cool” and making them tons of money for doing so, it hits him “That the freedom you got is your own brand, you know.”

After discovering an archive of hot rod drawings by a dead but crazy hot rod detailer, Kenny Howard aka “Von Dutch,” Christian was wise enough to it buy out from the late man’s daughters.

Being a keen observer of human behavior and an omnivorous reader of pop culture, particularly of rock and hip-hop magazines and a MTV fan, Audigier slap Kenny Howard’s hot rod designs on stuff people wear and use daily-baseball/trucker caps, tees, tanks, ski jackets, jeans, and bowling bags as totes.

This was the birth of Von Dutch as we know it. He was smart to slap a pair of trucker caps on rising teens, Britteny Spears and Justin Timberlake. Von Dutch was launched.
Then, it died with a lawsuit from the old man’s daughters.

Letting go of Von Dutch the brand was the most difficult thing for Christian. To settle everything, he had to let it go.

His advice to all and any aspiring or young designers, “Lawsuits-have lawyers take care of you and fix the issue.”

Resorting to his keen eyes, he noticed that all these Hollywood cuties were walking tattooed to the hilt. Why not wear a different tattoo everyday on a tee-shirt or a tank top or a cap, instead being stuck with one design.

He tracked down the teacher of all those tattoo artists. It was the still living, semi-retired Ed Hardy, the former student of the original All-American Naval tattoo, Sailor Jerry Collins.

Christian started the process all over again, promise the man a percentage of the profit or what they call, royalties, in return of buying his entire portfolio of tattoo fleshies.

Realizing he can retire permanently, Mr. Hardy sold his archives to Audigier.

Ed Hardy model with Ed Hardy Energy Drink

This is how we know Christian Audigier today, slapping tattoo fleshies on tees, tanks, dresses, purses, Smart Cars, perfume, flasks, cocktail glasses, sunglasses, totes, bags, jeans, kid clothes, bottled water, energy drinks (for all that nightclubbing), wine, champagne, and vodka, and hotels. You name it, he will tattoo it.

Ed Hardy dancer turn dancer

His other form of marketing is turning a stoic runway show into a live MTV video with hip-hop dancer and break-dancing kids. He knows his audience-the MTV/FUSE crowd emulating their idols.

But, living off another artist’s hard work can’t last forever.

According to Mr. Aguiar, the brand “Christian Audigier,” is Audigier’s attempt at establishing his own brand, his identity so his growing legion of fans would quit confusing him with his previous incarnations.

He gone as far as setting his own trade show, “When I Move, You Move,” at the Caesar’s Palace, selling his entire lines.

As a teenager, Christian always wanted to be a rock n’ roll singer but he can’t sing. So, he parlayed his business acumen into doing fashion collections with rock musicians. Rock Fabulous with Dave Stewart. Other collaborations are in the works, such as Michael Jackson and Britteny Spears. Using his admiration and business skills for them isn’t a bed of roses.

“Working with celebrities. Dealing with lawyers. Is the process to do it. Just a long process.”
But, it’s a long process that is paying off. Christian always wanted to be Mick Jagger. Now, Mick Jagger is wearing his clothes.

Ironically, his model for world domination is Ralph Lauren. He uses Lauren’s formula for a lifestyle brand for his “urban couture.”

The Crystal Rock Girls/Dancers

The next challenge is establishing the new generation of Audigier, his daughter , Crystal Rock.
On her Sweet Sixteen Birthday, as a birthday gift, he launched her own fashion line and a boutique named after her.

The Young Lady herself, Crystal Rock Audigier

The big curiosity factor can she carry on the business acumen and the creativity of brand extension as her old man or will that be the end?

As for putting up his company for sale at $700 Million dollars, Christian may take the money and live the dream if the right buyer came along.

But, he warned that the brands can’t and wouldn’t survive without him and his visions.

He’s moving onto Eviel Knivel, turning his x-rays of broken bones into patterns. The family is very pleased.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Need to Refresh Your Wardrobe?

Choke by the recession? Here's some relief directly from the designers.
What: Cloth Logic and Tulle Sample Sale

When: Saturday December 13th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Where: Morning Glow Inc.
350 Apra St.
Compton, CA

Why: This event is perfect for your holiday shopping as everything is under $20! Guys can come out and stock up on Cloth Logic’s vintage inspired sweaters and outerwear while picking up a few Tulle pieces for their gals without breaking the bank. Entrance is free and open to the public. Cash and Credit cards accepted.

You can check out Cloth Logic at and Tulle at

PAPER Magazine lands in LA

Mr. Mickey Partying It Up on the Sunset Strip
For it's Fourth Annual trek to Los Angeles, the uber-Soho culture/fashion/art magazine, PAPER Magazine has returned to West Hollywood.
It perched temporarily at 8873 Sunset Blvd. at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and San Vincenti Blvd.
Everytime, they make their westward migration for five days, they set-up a pop-up gallery, performance space, photography studio, and shop.
Other than enjoying the sunny weather and palm trees, the folks at PAPER Magazine recognized that the City of Angels have a growing art, culture, and fashion scene, mostly ignored by the city's obession on starlets and the entertainment industry.
It is their purpose to shine a light on these LA culturati and fashionistas for their up-coming annual February issue.

Mickey Boardman, aka "Mr. Mickey" getting his groove on at the opening party

Hard Rocker-turned-DJ, Andrew WK
Actually, the staff at PAPER Magazine are pretty generous folks.
They thought highly of Andrew WK's new venture, a night club called Santa's Play House and kindly asked him to bring his concept and crew to LA to be their house DJs for the five days event.
For Andrew, his night club is a natural growth and extension of his regular rock band, which he personally told me, is planning to hit the road again pretty soon.
He's still banging away on the keyboard over Eighties hits, ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" and classical Seventies and Eighties funk and rap.

Kim Hastreiter, Co-Publisher/Editor and Founder of PAPER Magazine
As the maternal editor watches the opening celebrations, Kim is opening and willing to talk to anyone. Remember, she's searching for fresh talent.

She lived very briefly in LA and attended Walt Disney's Art Center up in Pasadena.
She always knew LA has gifted artists, since she was one herself.
As she watched the city spawn in many directions, Kim noticed that each neighborhood grows it's own identity and personality since everyone is choked by their own traffic.
The magazine crew want to spotlight those emerging artsy neighborhoods like Culver City, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz, Venice Beach, and LA's garment district, Downtown. Places the mainstream media in Los Angeles ignore because they're not tv/movie/entertainment heavy but they're ripe of individuality and real Los Angelenos, not air-brushed starlets dying for the red carpet.
They pick West Hollywood because of it's central location as a gathering spot.

Dallas from VH1's "Rock of Love: Charm School"

Celebrity Stylist, George Blodwell, and on the right, his wife, blonde Italian fashion publicist, Piera.

Towards the final hour, the party really heats up when uniquely LA celebrities arrive in droves.

Old friends, George Blodwell, and a couple of actors greeted this writer. Local Sunset Strip rockers show their support for the NY magazine.

Everybody will have even more blasts.

Thursday and Sunday are the editorial days when things calm down and people of every stripe are welcomed to show their graphic designs, clothes, style, and talent to the PAPER staff for their Febuary issue. Those are the days, the pop-up store becomes "Project Runway" and hunts for fresh talent to showcase.

Friday and Saturday are the 24-Hour "Chop Shop" Party. Open to the public and for everyone to enjoy, it's an all day and all night shopping and partying carnival where shoppers can watch artists convert Levi's denim into all sorts of stuff while partying to Lady Tigra, Chapin Sisters, and prominent alternative rockers.

Go ahead and save the cover charge for other things and join the celebration of what is good about LA and party with PAPER Magazine people this weekend at 8873 Sunset Blvd.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Meet Best Friends Forever, Tulle & Cloth Logic

This complementary boy/girl line of when innocent nostalgia meets preppy sportswear happened when, through a friend of a friend, the girls of Tulle, Jennifer Smith and Anoushka Scott, met Leon Shpayer. Together, the trio grew added on then grew their menswear line, Cloth Logic.

Tulle Cashew Puff Sleeve Trench Coat

It started when vintage aficionado, Anoushka Scott, hooked up with graphic designer-turned-crafting fan, Jennifer Smith.

Tulle Empire Waist Top
After earning her Graphic Design degree at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Jennifer figured she was better off returning there for a fashion design degree since she always sewn clothes for her friends. She expressed her dedication to the craft by studying it for four more additional years at SCAD.

Her journey in fashion lead her to Anoushka Scott.

While working in a vintage boutique, Anoushka piques her interest in retro fashion. Her boss offering workshops in vintage clothes only fueled her drive into Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Los Angeles' top-secret but top-notch school for fashion and pattern design.

It was at LA Trade Tech (the school's nickname) that she bumped into fellow student, Leon.

Both praised the school's no-nonsense attitude towards apparel construction and paying attention to details. They said the school drills this mind set that fashion isn't a glamour game but a technical, engineering skill.

Tulle Navy Tie-Dress with Short-Sleeved Sweater Coat

Later on, when Jennifer's and Anoushka's womenswear, Tulle, took off and felt like they were ready to tackle menswear, they hunted high and low through a network of friends for a menswear designer that share their sensible yet cute, vintage aesthetics. They found Leon Shpayer. Even, Jennifer recommended him.

Humorously, Leon called fashion, "It's a teeny world."

Cloth Logic Black Barracuda Jacket

In the nineteen years he have been living here, since immigrating from St. Petersburg, Russia, Leon developed a deep appreciation for the East Coast's common sensed utilitarism and the Preppy smartness.

Cloth Logic Hooded Windbreaker

A rainy but romantic Spring trip to Boston inspired Leon's current collection of sporty windbreakers and stylish and sleek zip-up sweaters.

He watched Ivy League couples walking hand-in-hand. The flowers were beginning to bloom after the Spring shower.

A storyline or a concept sprung into his head.

He based his collection on an Ivy League, perhaps a prep school boy. Bored with Boston, he decided to take a trip to Manhattan's Lower East Side for some excitement.

The kid went vintage shopping there in those thrift stores.

He returned home, mixing his vintage military salvage with his more conservative prep school wardrobe.

Cloth Logic Granite Navy Short Trench

Leon's "Preppy Meets Military Punk" earns him a legion of male celebrity followers from "Gossip Girl"s Ed Westwick to Ryan Seacrest.

E! Executive News Editor, Ken Baker, can't help but praise Cloth Logic's classically tailored but ruggedly punk blazer that saves him from looking like a bum.

There's nothing "bummy" about Tulle's pristine womenswear or Cloth Logic's new classic Americana.